Barcode Symbology

Unique barcode formats are used in different regions around the world and for different types of products. Here's a rundown on the various types of barcodes you’ll find across the globe — and on our website.

Universal Product Code

UPCDescription: The Universal Product Code (UPC) is the standard barcode symbology format used in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries around the world. It consists of 12 digits along with vertical stripes, or "bars", which are easy to read by an optical scanner. A UPC is divided into "left" and "right" sections, with six digits in each section.

Barcode formats: UPC-A symbols consist of 11 data digits and one check digit, so 12 digits in total. The first digit is a number system digit, which typically represents the product type. The next five digits are the manufacturer’s code. And the final five digits are the specific product's identifier. UPC-E is a shorter UPC code, consisting of seven digits, which is typically used for small retail items.

International Article Number

EANDescription: The acronym, EAN, comes from its original name: "European Article Number". It looks very similar to a UPC-A barcode number, with 12 vertical bars divided into "left" and "right" sections. It also includes a 13th digit out to the left, which is known as a "check digit".

Barcode formats: EAN-13 is a 13-digit barcode, used to mark packages with an item number. EAN-8 is a shorter, eight-digit code, used to mark small packages. Both types of EANs are used primarily outside North America.

International Standard Book Number

ISBNDescription: This type of barcode is used specifically to help retailers and libraries track books. Each new edition and variation of a book gets its very own ISBN.

Barcode formats: ISBN-10 is a 10-digit barcode for books printed before 2007. In an ISBN-10, the first two digits specify the book's group. The next five digits identify the publisher. The following three digits indicate the book's title. And the final character of an ISBN-10 is known as a “check digit”. ISBN-13 is a 13-digit barcode for books printed on or after January 1, 2007. ISBN-13 digits serve the same functions as those of an ISBN-10 but are also preceded by a three-digit Global Standards (GS1) number.

Global Trade Item Number

GTINDescription: This set of barcodes covers a wide variety of international formats — all developed by the Global Standards Organization (GS1). Rather than a unique type of barcode format, these codes regulate the formatting and usage of barcodes throughout various regions of the world — including UPCs, EANs and ISBNs.

Barcode formats: GTIN-12 (UPC-A) is a 12-digit number used mainly in North America. GTIN-8 (EAN/UCC-8) is an eight-digit number, mostly used outside of North America. GTIN-13 (EAN/UCC-13) is a 13-digit number primarily seen outside of North America, and GTIN-14 (EAN/UCC-14 or ITF-14) is a 14-digit number that retailers use to identify trade items.